War: What is it good for?
By Dr. Robert Owens
The President of Afghanistan, the man we installed and the leader of a land that is a nation in name only recently accused the United States of colluding with the Taliban to keep the war going. According to his spokesman, "The people of Afghanistan ask NATO to define the purpose and aim of the so-called war on terror... (They) consider this war as aimless and unwise to continue."
I am a supporter of our troops. I believe they are patriots and America's best. It is not the bravery or skill of our troops that I question; it is the imperial foreign policy which sends them as sacrifices on the altar of political ambition that I question. The cruel calculations of political elites using our service men and women as pawns on their partisan game board are shameful. The most shocking example of this is President Obama's announcing a surge in troops at the same time he announced the exit strategy for leaving the country. What could be more counterproductive than telling an asymmetrical partisan enemy that if they hang on long enough we leave and you win?
Look at Iraq. We went to war to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction which even President Bush eventually admitted were never there. We went to war because our leaders intimated that Iraq had a hand in the sneak attacks of 9-11 based on a rumored meeting between an Iraqi agent and Mohamed Atta another claim that has since been repudiated. Did we go to war to correct the partial victory we gained in Gulf War I under George I? Did we go to war as George II later claimed to make the Mideast safe for democracy? Whatever the reason for invading Iraq, a nation we supported for years, a nation which had not and was not planning to attack us, what did we accomplish and what do we have now that we are gone?
What about Afghanistan? After the sneak attacks on 9-11 we had every legal and moral right to attack the nation that harbored and protected Al-Qaeda. However, to keep faith with the Constitution a declaration of war should have been obtained. Our armed forces waged a brilliant campaign that dismantled the Taliban regime in short order. Then instead of saying, if it happens again we will come back again, and leaving we have stayed for more than ten years squandering hundreds of billions building a nation for people who don't see themselves as a nation. They are a collection of tribes grouped together by the necessities of international politics surrounded by a porous border and a history of ungovernable conflict.
Does anyone doubt that after we leave Kabul the Taliban will return? Does anyone doubt that the training and weapons that we have given to our Afghan allies which are turned against us on a regular basis will form the bedrock of future Taliban strength?
The Constitution gives Congress the exclusive right to declare war. This limitation on the prerogative of our chief executive to commit America to war without the consent of the citizens was considered one of the most important strengths of the document. The founders of our nation came from a society in which autocratic kings had often plunged their nations into wars based on their own desires, whims, and political machinations. Those who wrote the Constitution to be the framework for a new type of nation were determined that we should never go to war unless it was the expression of the people through their elected representatives.
There hasn't been a declared war since World War II and yet our sons and daughters have fought and died in countless battles around the world. With the war in Afghanistan set to wind down the Neocons and Progressives are beating the war drums daily for intervention in Syria and war with Iran.
I believe once the truth is known America, in keeping with the Obama Administration's on-going policy of supporting Islamic Radicals, has been supplying weapons to the Al-Qaeda led Syrian rebels for years. I contend that the Mission in Benghazi and its satellite CIA Safe-House was in reality a conduit for transferring untraceable weapons from the captured Libyan arsenal through Turkey to the rebels. So when it comes to Syria we are already there, and now our Neo-con cheerleaders want us to directly intervene.
The same goes for Iran. There is a shadow war that has been raging for years between Israel with American support and Iran. This shadow war consists of assassinations of nuclear scientists, bombing nuclear facilities and uploading computer viruses into computers used to control the cyclotrons used to enrich uranium on the part of the allies. The response has been attacks against Israeli citizens around the world and even a bombing attempt in Washington D.C.
This is not enough. America has been goaded into imposing draconian sanctions against Iran. Sanctions which if imposed on us we would be consider acts of war. Once again this is not enough. The Neocons are working day and night to get us to deliver some shock and awe all over Iran all in the name of peace.
Iran has not attacked another country in the memory of anyone who is alive today. Or in the lives of the ancestors going back hundreds of years. America's intelligence agencies unanimously tell us, Congress, and the Administration that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Iran is a signer of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and as a part of that treaty it is guaranteed the right to develop nuclear power for peaceful means.
As part of the big push to get us into another war we are told "Containment is off the table." Usually soon after we are told "All options are on the table." Why is containment off the table? It worked during the Cold war when we faced off with an enemy many times larger with thousands of nuclear weapons on delivery systems aimed at our cities. Why won't it work against a nation that at this point has no nuclear weapons?
Why is it acceptable for North Korea to have nuclear weapons but not Iran? Does anyone think the Ayatollahs are crazier than the new boy dictator of the Kim dynasty? There is no doubt that the United States military has the ability to destroy Iran's conventional defensive and offensive resources within a short time. It is obvious we could, "Bomb them back to the stone age" as the saying goes. However that wouldn't necessarily mean that some of the stones thrown later in the contest might not hurt. Iran has an unknown asymmetrical war capability.
It is believed that their allies in Gaza and Lebanon would immediately attack Israel. The Iranians would also do all they could to interrupt the supply of the oil upon which we continue to allow ourselves to need. They would attempt to attack the oil fields of their neighbors, to close the Straits of Hormuz, attack nearby American bases, and possible stir up rebellions in Sunni ruled countries with either sizable Shiite minorities or in some cases majorities. We might even face terrorist attacks here in the Homeland. This war would not be a cake walk. The military and economic consequences would be immediate and they would be dire.
However, as dire as these consequences would be these are not potentially the most troubling. War opens the door for domestic changes that would not be possible during normal times. While we have been and are engaged in a multi-generational seemingly endless series of wars this war might be different. While all our other wars have been fought over there the civilian population continued to live as if Americans were not in harm's way even though they were. In other words we managed to have both guns and butter, war overseas and peace at home. In the case of a war with Iran we might face a situation that could bring the war home to America in multiple ways.
Economically gas could skyrocket causing dislocation in our fragile economy. On the military front terror sleeper cells could be activated in America or terrorists could come in through our porous southern border. Both the economic impact and terrorist activities would open the door for drastic government action which could well negatively impact our lives. Rights are often curtailed in times of emergency. The cost of war is often seen in the growth of government power and the loss of freedom at home.
Our worldwide military presence is not keeping us safe and in many ways it is provocative. Peace and equitable trade with all is the course recommended by our founders. It was the foreign policy of every administration until McKinley and the default position until FDR. Let us return to our traditions and reject these endless wars for peace. Let us quit supporting other economies with our foreign bases. Let us end the many entangling agreements that bind us to fight for others who should instead fight for themselves.
With real peace we could perhaps deal with the domestic issues that are tearing us apart and driving us into bankruptcy. Every patriot should recognize the danger new fronts in our never-ending war will have on our current battle to maintain personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity here at home. Consequently patriots should do everything in their power to stop the stampede to war. Stand up for real peace and not for more wars for a peace that never comes.
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens